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Published: September 16th 2007
Castle Toward Outdoor School
My accommodations for the week!
I am happy to report that I have survived Castle Toward Outdoor School, albeit, barely! The first and foremost reason may have been the accommodations. I never dreamed of a field trip that would allow me to stay in a castle for a week in my own private room with two beds and a private bath. Being a castle, it was somewhat cold and damp, but still it was a castle, very cool! I guess I should thank the kids who all forked over $400 for the experience.
As for the week, it was jam packed with activities. The instructors were excellent and they ran a nice program for the kids. Upon arrival on Monday they whisked the kids away from us and we had the opportunity to take a walk down to the water and enjoy the most beautiful day I’ve seen since being here. We strolled the grounds and spent a good chunk of time enjoying the weather. Everything was great until it was time for the kids to go to bed. As you can imagine trying to get a one hundred kids to go to sleep in a castle is no easy task and didn’t get completed
until after 2:00 in the morning. This more or less happened every night.
Tuesday we went hill walking for the entire day. I managed to stay clean, whilst the others managed to find every mud puddle possible and literally swim in them. (See video) The instructors called them elephant traps. How they didn’t suffer from hypothermia I have no idea.
Wednesday we went up to the ropes course and did a variety of activities 40 feet up in the trees. It was a very exciting morning with lots of adrenaline rushes. My favorite was “The Leap of Faith”. I jumped off a platform four stories off the ground and I think the instructor let me free fall a little further than he intended, but I’m alive. After the ropes course we headed over to the archery field for some bow and arrow work. It was excellent. I loved it and would be keen to pick up the sport in the future.
I was given Thursday morning off and went for a three-hour ramble up the coast. After about two hours I cut into the woods and came across a farmer’s field. They have a law here called
the “Right to Roam” and this means that you can cut across farmer’s land as long as you leave the gates as you found them, don’t disturb the wildlife and respect their property and equipment. So I began my quest to find the road back to town. After walking through cow dung, sheep dung, horse dung, and who know whatever else dung, I found the road. Even for all the crap I had to get through, it was worth it. I came across the ruins of an old building in one pasture and as I sat there admiring it, I got goose bumps as I realized how fortunate I am to be here taking in these sights, sounds, and SMELLS. Upon my return I got to go gorge walking. This was very cool. The trip began at the sea and you walked up a gorge going under bridges that were hundreds of years old, climbing waterfalls and walking through waist-deep water. It was beautiful, but unfortunately the conditions prevented me from bringing a camera.
Friday we got the kids breakfast, packed up, played some games and then it was time to go back to school. I have never been
so exhausted in my life. The kids were up early every day and we were up late every night. This is a staff that likes to have fun, even when the kids were asleep they all stayed up to “wind down”. A couple of nights as I was looking around the room at the staff, myself included, singing traditional Scottish songs about the massacre at Glencoe at 2:45 in the morning, I thought this wouldn’t happen in America, at least not on a Wednesday night!
The food was camp food, but I must mention how much I love that dessert is called pudding. All week long as they whined for their desserts, I had the pleasure of yelling that infamous Pink Floyd line at them and they would look at me bewildered as if to say, “what the hell are you talking about?”
The best part of the week though was compliments of the Fien and Bousselot clans. Not to be outdone by a 17 year-old bottle of Scotch, they were kind enough to have a case of wine delivered to our doorstep on Friday. You can only imagine how much we enjoyed our weekend! Who wants to
try to outdo them? Come on I dare you! Seriously though, I know we are fortunate to have some of the greatest people in the world as friends. We miss and love you guys and while we are having fun, I’m already looking forward to some late nights and sleepovers when we return.
The weekend was rather mellow, but still interesting. Glasgow is hosting what it calls Doors Open Days this weekend. We took this opportunity to stay local this weekend and to go downtown and tour buildings that are not generally open to the public. It was a fascinating look into some of the City Chamber Buildings, Merchant Guild, music houses, churches, police stations, etc…
Next weekend we are off to England and Wales. We are going to see Elizabeth’s old stomping grounds at Chester College and then to Snowdonia National Park in Wales. While there we will visit Bangor, Wales, the site of the second teacher exchange to fall through. The Tour of Rejection continues. This time though we have decided to upgrade on our accommodations. I’ll keep you posted.
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